Supreme Court judges' unprecedented media address sends tremors across the country

Article 124 of the Constitution deals with the manner of appointment of judges to the Supreme Court. "Democracy can not survive without an independent judiciary", the judge added.

"We do not want the people to say 20 years later that the four senior-most judges sold their soul", Justice Chelameswar said.

"At the outset, we four would like to thank each one of you for responding on a very short notice".

The Trump administration's shift in position means the Supreme Court probably will appoint an outside lawyer to defend the lower court ruling. I am sure they (the four judges) are hurt with many things which ought not to have happened.

"Justice J. Chelameswar, the second senior-most judge after the CJI - and significantly, the lone dissenter on the 5-judge bench that struck down the National Judicial Appointments Commission, thus making a crucial contribution to the national debate on judicial accountability - laid out what he and his three colleagues saw to be now at stake: "... unless this institution is preserved and it maintains its equanimity, democracy will not survive".

At the news conference, the judges rubbished suggestions that they have broken ranks and said they will discharge their duties as usual.

Efforts to alert the chief justice that certain things were not in order and that remedial measures were needed had failed, prompting the news conference, Chelameswar said. "Unfortunately we could not convince him that we were right".

The Trump administration told the court that the judge who handled Lucia's case "did not conform" to the Constitution's requirements.

Asked by journalists if the chief justice should be impeached, Chelameswar said: "Let the nation decide that". "Somebody had to confront the situation, where Chief Justice is blatantly misusing his powers, hence the unprecedented step", Bhushan said.

The leaders briefed him about the political and legal implications of the unprecedented development, which was termed as "an extraordinary event in the history of judiciary". The press conference, at a remarkably short running time of 15 minutes, was as opaque as it was revelatory.

Some Supreme Court lawyers praised the justices' action.

The CJI is yet to comment on the matter.

Rather than brush away the concerns of the four judges, the Chief Justice must convene a meeting of the full court and give them a patient and careful hearing. This must be guarded against at all costs. They have also made a point about judge Loya's case. Surjewala said, "The non-finalisation of the Memorandum of Procedure has left almost 40% of the sanctioned posts of the judges vacant, leading to delay in justice delivery". "We construe this as a responsibility to the nation and we have done it", said Justice Chelameswar.

When questioned about impeachment, the judges claimed that it's a decision that the nation must take. Tried to intervene but to no avail.

Leading the rebellion was the second most senior senior judge, Justice Chelameswar, who said that 'in the past few months, less than desirable things have been happening'. Even yesterday morning, on a particular issue, we went and met the chief justice with a specific request.

  • Leroy Wright